From a classically trained musician to cooking cakes in a café and brewing the perfect oyster stout, Adrian Beckett has learnt to follow his nose and dreams and they lead him into the most surprising places.
It seems such a long stretch from muso, playing piano, guitar, and singing for a living, to running a huge and very busy suburban café, but for Adrian, it all fits. He says they aren’t nearly as different careers as you would think. They both take enormous practice, dedication, a commitment to your audience, and a pursuit of perfection.
Luma Bar and Pizza is Adrian’s dream baby. He loves pizza. But not just any pizza. He loves that magical moment when flour and yeast burn and catch in fire and turn into something transformational. That makes the palate sing.
It’s here, in the middle of this bland urban homemakers’ centre that Adrian has chosen to set Luma, and shine the light on a dish that lights his fire. He and his wife Michaela, who comes from a family of entrepreneurial hospitality – they own Barilla Bay so also have access to some mighty fine produce – wanted a local café that was a step further from the Red Square Café next door.
For the last seven years, Adrian beavered away at Red Square, working every station, getting this new business and career into shape at huge personal cost. That happens. Passionate people have no off switch, so it was a massive spinal collapse that forced him to take a step back, and begin to be the manager he is now.
“Even with the greatest creativity, execution is everything.”
The lessons? “I needed to step out and up to be able to do my job – manage the place. To deal with suppliers, producers, staff, customers, and service, I suddenly realized I couldn’t do all that down in the trenches, and in fact I did a much better job stepping back. Seeing the big picture.” That’s when Adrian hit finally, a sweet patch, and decided that a new challenge and opportunity was beckoning. Luma was born.
Adrian is driven to give back to customers, and provide a venue for locals who’ve been screaming for somewhere nice to go, and he felt that a perfect pizza, with a relaxed bar in stylish décor would fill the bill. It does. He’s excited and happy, and loves to share that. But Adrian is well aware, always, that “even with the greatest creativity, execution is everything. “
And the food? Wow is all I can say. I had the Margherita pizza cooked by Andrew Clark, the head chef the night of the launch. When Nicola Dusi talked us through the history of pizza and what he and Andrew see as the secrets to achieving perfection. Nicola is ex-Michelin (of course) and was brought over from +39 in Melbourne by Adrian and another Adrian of the Genobile Brothers who provide the flour, olive oil and other ingredients that make this dish truly special. Watch the video as Nicola and Andrew riff on food.
Another day, I tried an “Oh deer…” a pizza with ‘garlic, mozzarella, braised venison shoulder in pinot, salsa verde, pickled pink onion and black olive crumb”. At $21, a real bargain, and superb. The menu is inventive, playful, and next time I just have to try the Smoked Chicken, which is “a whole boned bird cooked in the wood oven with sav blanc, saffron, capers and finished with paprika.” At $36 for 2, how cheap is that? And there is so much more besides.
John Hughes of Hughes and Hughes and Mewstone wines, a small boutique local winery, was on hand to talk about his beautiful wines and why they’re there. For me, the answer was simple. This bar oozes quality. From the fittings, the lighting, the kitchen, the food and service, it’s all there.
For Adrian, always, “as long as you’re providing value, and the global numbers sing, you’ll survive.” With Andrew cooking and bringing the menu to life, they seem to have formed a team that will keep pushing, and thriving. Adrian says, when he first tasted the dishes that made the grade, after doggedly ploughing through 8 types of flour and endless batteries of ingredients, “I dreamed it’d be that good.” He’s got his eyes on developing the perfect brew as well, so watch that space. I have no doubt he’ll get there.
Adrian finishes with a profound statement, “You know, I may look as if I’m in a comfortable cocoon, which makes it easier for me to do brave things, but I want to show customers that we never take them for granted. Long term? We’re going to push it.”
With a carefully chosen drinks list that covers locals and others to match the food, the bar, with its high tech ceiling and big solid bench is inviting. A perfect place to sit, to savour, and watch the show. Because that’s the dream. The customer getting an amazing product cooked in front of their eyes. And Adrian? He, his staff and customers are living it. Nothing better.
Luma Bar and Pizza / 66 Kennedy Drive, Cambridge TAS 7170 / Ph: 03 6240 1875 / Open Wed – Sunday from 12 noon / $$